Fort Hamilton High School
Large neighborhood school with great music program and broad array of classes and extracurricular activities
A large school may be overwhelming for some; very overcrowded
Fort Hamilton High School is a massive neighborhood school located along the edge of New York Harbor. It offers a broad array of classes and extracurricular activities, including more than 60 clubs and dozens of sports teams. The school mainly admits students who live in its zone, though there are a few small arts programs and an honors academy that attract kids from across Brooklyn.
What’s nice about Fort Hamilton is that kids don’t have to specialize from the outset. Zoned students may participate in the school’s extensive music program, which includes three choirs, three concert bands, two orchestras, and both a jazz and marching band. While a newly minted drama program offers an intensive course of study for its enrolled students, there are theater classes and school performances open to all. Business classes are a popular draw and include options such as computer applications, entrepreneurship, accounting and Virtual Enterprise, where students create and operate all facets of a mock business.
Incoming freshmen with strong grades, including those admitted to one of the arts programs, are placed in honors classes even if they didn’t apply to the Honors Academy. Upperclassmen with strong grades or who are looking for a challenge are encouraged to take honors and Advanced Placement classes. Students may study French, Spanish, Greek or Italian.
With a student population that exceeds 4,500, Fort Hamilton is one of the largest high schools in the city. To handle the crowds, classes start as early as 7:20 a.m. and spread over 10 periods. Despite its size and overcrowding, the school does not seem hectic. Hallways are packed during changes of classes but are otherwise quiet and clear of students. Even the cafeteria, which holds more than 700 students and stretches the length of a city block, was not overly noisy during lunchtime.
In academic classes we visited, we saw a range of teaching styles, though teachers across the school are devoting more time in lessons to student discussion and reflection.
Kaye Houlihan became principal of Fort Hamilton in 2012 after working at two other large schools with strong arts program. She was an assistant principal at LaGuardia High School and taught English at Edward R. Murrow High School.
To accommodate the many students still learning English, there are subject classes such as history, science and math taught in Spanish, Arabic and Chinese (options vary by language).
The student council campaigned hard to secure funding from Brooklyn officials to get the school’s field, track and scoreboard replaced. Renovations are slated to be finished in 2019.
There is a dedicated college office where students can drop in to speak with the counselor or do research at a bank of computers. The school’s college-readiness rate is strong, and many students graduate with an Advanced Regents Diploma. Graduates attend a broad range of schools, including CUNY, SUNY and private colleges, and job training programs.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: There is a full range of services and class settings, including self-contained and ICT (Integrated Collaborative Teaching) classes. There is also a five-year program for students with special needs, who complete the coursework for a diploma and gain work experience at the nearby Veterans Administration hospital.
ADMISSIONS: Students who live in the school’s zone are guaranteed admission to the zoned program only but may apply to the other programs. Admission to the Honors Academy is based on a review of students’ grades, state test scores, and record of attendance and punctuality. Students must audition for the Joffrey Ballet Dance, vocal music, instrumental music and dramatic arts academies. (Laura Zingmond, March 2018)
About the students
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Programs and Admissions
A four-year academic program offering courses in humanities, mathematics, and science courses that culminate in AP coursework. Students that complete the Honors Academy coursework are eligible for the Advanced Regents Diploma with Honors distinction.
Students will be trained in the Joffrey Ballet School's technique in classical ballet, contemporary dance, jazz, improvisation, dance history, dance composition, and pointe. Students eligible for Honors and AP classes will be programmed accordingly.
In addition to studying the required music courses, students will develop their ability to perform on a musical instrument, study music theory, and enhance solo and ensemble techniques.
In addition to studying the required music courses, students will develop their vocal techniques, study music theory, and enhance solo and ensemble techniques.
A sequential course of study focusing on acting, scene study, dramatic literature, playwriting, and performance.
Comprehensive academic program.
Arabic, French, Greek, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Biology, AP Calculus BC, AP Chemistry, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Physics, AP Psychology, AP Spanish, AP Studio Art: 2-D Design, AP U.S. Government and Politics, AP U.S. History, AP World History
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Football, Handball, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Flag Football, Golf, Handball, Indoor Track, Lacrosse, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball
Coed PSAL teams
Brooklyn NY 11209